When Will You Die

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Music video for "When Will You Die"
The completed pink monster truck hearse

song name When Will You Die
artist They Might Be Giants
releases Join Us, Them Ain't Big Eye Ants, 50,000,000 They Might Be Giants Songs Can't Be Wrong
year 2011
first played July 28, 2011 (302 known performances)
run time 2:32
sung by John Linnell


  • Linnell spoke of this song in an interview[1] with The Word Magazine: "I felt a little bit funny about it, and I was thinking of starting again with new lyrics, but the people around me were saying, 'No, no, you should stick around with this incredibly hateful lyric you've constructed. In fact, make it more hateful.'" Later, in an interview[2] with the A.V. Club he added, "When we were working on it, everybody was looking at me, like, 'Who is this about?' [Laughs.] And no, it was kind of hilarious to keep people...It’s a funny thing to lead people to believe that there is somebody that it's about, because in a way, the energy of the song is derived from that. I would joke and say, 'Well, it's about someone in this room, but I'm not going to say who.'"
  • In the same A.V. Club interview referenced above, Linnell notes that he subconsciously plagiarized himself on this song: "[T]he middle, the bridge bit, is almost identical in melodic, harmonic structure to part of the song “The Statue Got Me High,” and it was so late in the process when I realized it, it was like, 'Fuck it. There’s nothing I can do about it now. This song is kinda done.'"
  • The stereo field in this song is very narrow with only the vocals having almost any pan whatsoever, making the album mix of this track essentially mono. John Linnell told Suicide Girls[3] more about the production techniques: "There's some possibly misguided ideas that we just pursued to the bitter end. For example, there's one song where the entire band sped up a substantial amount, and the vocal is at regular speed. Some of the people we played it for were like, 'Those drums sound a little thin.' They didn't get the point of it, so I don't know if that requires an explanation that we did this on purpose."
  • The horn arrangement on this song was done by Dan Levine.
  • The video for this song was put together by the Office of Paul Sahre and features the construction (and destruction) of a life-size paper model of the Join Us monster truck hearse. It took four months to build and, together with the video, the total cost was $10,000. You can read more about the design and construction process on designboom.com[4]. Some of the surviving pieces of the hearse were shown at a 2017 exhibit of Sahre's work entitled "Two-Dimensional Man".[5]

Song Themes

Children, Counting, Criminal Activities, Death, Everything, Evil, Funny But Sad, Gleeful Irreverence, Insanity, Lies And Deception, Money, Questions, School, Self-Reference, The Senses, Time, Yes


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When Will You Die is currently ranked #29 out of 1010. (237 wikians have given it an average rating of 9.18)